Anxiety and relationships.
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Anxiety and relationships.

This is a discussion on Anxiety and relationships. within the Anxiety forums, part of the Mental and Physical Health category; Long story short. I have suffered with anxiety for just over twenty years. It's always there but for the past ...

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Old 12-18-16, 01:11 PM   #1
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Default Anxiety and relationships.

Long story short. I have suffered with anxiety for just over twenty years. It's always there but for the past five years or so it's been mostly manageable.
I have noticed that my anxiety goes through the roof when a new romantic relationship arrives in my life. At the moment I am quite ill with it. At times as bad as I ever have been (which is extremely debilitating).

To over simplify, here's what happens.
I start a romantic relationship. Everything seems quite nice for a few weeks. I start having huge doubts, go into an anxiety tailspin and end the relationship.
I suppose, in a nutshell my question is this:
How do people who suffer with anxiety tell when doubts about a relationship are a gut warning that something isn't right and when they are just the anxiety doing what it does best and sabotaging everything?
I'm nearly 40 now and I've never had a 'healthy' relationship. I was with someone for about 10 years (between the ages of 23 and 33) but we were together for all the wrong reasons and it nearly ended up tearing us both apart. Before, but particularly since my relationships have all followed the same pattern highlighted above.

My current situation is that I met a woman 7 weeks ago and we have been seeing each other since. Things started off great and I genuinely believed I felt different about her but the same thing has happened again. I feel like I need to act and end it so my anxiety will go away (it wouldn't be there unless it was warning me off about something, right?). How do I tell if it's because I don't have feelings for her (is 7 weeks even enough time to know?) or if it's just my anxiety? It's so hard to feel my own feelings sometimes because they always feel tainted with anxiety.

Reading all that back I think I might be coming over as a bit needy. I don't go hopping from one disastrous relationships to another. I do spend quite a bit of time single in-between and don't feel like I NEED to be with someone. I'd just quite like a relationship without all the anxiety and crippling doubts at every turn.
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Old 12-18-16, 03:07 PM   #2
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Hello Harry,
I don't have personal anxiety experience to the level that you describe, so I'm not a great source of personal knowledge. One of my questions is that if your anxiety is the same in every relationship, unless you are just really unlucky at choosing the same type of person over and over, since the only consistent theme in each relationship is you, is it possible that the trouble is your anxiety not the woman? It could be more complex then that and the answer is you have anxiety but she's doing something too. I'm just thinking that sometimes we are our own worst enemy with our conditions, not the people around us. I watched a video today on anxiety and overcoming it. I know it might be oversimplifying things, but it could help you somewhat if you are trying to grow in that area. Here it is:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=INjd5ue_YhI

I hope you can make the best choice for your relationship and feel good about what ever the choice is.
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Old 12-19-16, 03:55 AM   #3
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Thank you so much for the reply hottea654. It always means so much when someone reads a post of mine and takes the time to reply. .

I have a suspicion that the main problem in all this is me and my anxiety. I never seem to be able to give a relationship time. I always feel this crippling fear and doubt and feel as though I then have to act upon it as soon as possible.

I suppose what I'd like to be able to do is actually push through the anxiety and at least give the relationship sufficient time to either flourish or end. To be able to see it through to it's natural conclusion rather than cutting it short all the time. It occurs to me that every single romantic relationship I've ever been in has been ended by me. I'm not suggesting this is because I'm too amazing to break up with I'm just wondering if that's a bit odd.

The girl I'm currently seeing is by no means perfect but she has got a lot of beautiful qualities and she makes me laugh. I want to push through this anxiety and see what happens with her (that's what normal people do, right?) but it's so hard to function at the moment and near impossible to hide it from her. I know I should talk to her about it (and I have touched upon it with her) but how do I say 'I feel really ill at the moment and it's because I'm struggling with my feelings for you'?

I've spoken to a couple of friends of mine about this (neither know what it's like to live with an anxiety problem) and they both think I'm mad to even be thinking about ending things with her after such a short period of time. They can't really understand how I've gone from being upbeat about the whole thing early on to how I'm feeling now. They couldn't understand it with my last girlfriend either. Both have pretty much said to give things at least 6 months before I make any decisions. I don't think you can put such a specific time limit on these things but what do people think about that? Do 'normal' people give these things more time?
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Old 12-19-16, 07:29 AM   #4
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I'm not sure what others 'usually' do. Before I met and married my husband I spent a lot of years single and dating. Relationships were of varying lengths. Looking back, I'd say that the ones which were only a couple months were really where people where casually dating me- no desire for anything serious. I didn't always realize that until it was over, so it was usually hard on me emotionally to find it out. Your friends' 6 month rule might be kind of a golden rule, some intangible set of feelings and qualities that need to be met/maintained for that time frame for there to be a good conclusion made. Only 2 months sounds like a short time to cut it off, especially if you have a suspicion that it's your anxiety that is playing a major role. To me it could depend on how much time you are investing with one another and how close the two of you are. Sometimes you get quite close, spend a lot of time together daily and find that it's just not a good match personality-wise in that intense short time because you are really investing in one another's lives a lot. If you only see each other sporadically or every few days and talk on the phone in between then you probably haven't had enough time to make a final decision if you're a 'normal' sort. I don't know all the ways anxiety plays in the mind and how it effects your decisions, but if you want to push back against the anxiety you might have to stay in the relationship too. No relationship- no anxiety. So in order to work on it you might have to keep it.
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Old 12-19-16, 10:03 AM   #5
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Thanks again for the reply.
I do want to push back against the anxiety and test it out and I realise the only way I can do this in this instance is to remain in the relationship and try to get past the anxiety in whatever way I can.
But (and there's always a but with me) my next thought is 'isn't that unfair on the girl?'. I feel like I'm using her as a kind of guinea pig........ Oh the joys of an anxious mind! Always creating problems at every turn!
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Old 12-20-16, 07:11 AM   #6
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I'm not sure I can see your view that you are only using the lady you are dating. You DO want to date her and get to know her better. You do want to have a good and pleasant relationship and see if it might be able to turn into something more. In that sense your goals are the same as the goals other people have for relationships. You recognize that some of your hangups are a struggle to get adjusted in the relationship and you hope you don't blow it up because of your challenges. In that sense you are maybe different from others, but honestly, everyone has hangups in every relationship. Some people believe they don't but I'm of the opinion that everyone does, just not everyone admits it. You may have more to work through then other people but she's not just a test subject for an experiment, you have talked about having feelings for her and a desire to date. Don't throw in the towel just because you recognize that you struggle, I'd advise you to struggle along for a while and see if you can get on top of your anxiety better.

Have you seen a therapist for the issue at all while you are in the midst of the relationship? Sometimes getting guidance while you are working on the problem instead of before/after it can give you a better edge on the issues.
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Old 12-26-16, 10:07 AM   #7
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In my search for the truth one thing I've noticed is that at times when my mind is naturally quiet like when I've just woken up or if I've had a few beers I feel great about my new relationship. I wonder if people think there's anything in that?
It's only when my mind starts whirring that doubts start coming.
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